Thursday, April 30, 2009

Things that speak to my heart (part two)

Need I say more?? I met this adorable little boy at an orphanage (fundaninos), yesterday. It was love at first sight! I'll just say that it is probably a good thing that adoptions are closed here right now or my husband would have one whiny wife on his hands "please, just one more?" Anyway, I was able to spend some time loving on the little honey. What a handsome little guy, don't you think?
This reminded me that although adoptions are closed right now in Guatemala, there are thousands of little kids in orphanages around the world waiting to be loved on, and to have a family of their own. (For those of you wondering, we still think four kids is a good number).

Monday, April 27, 2009

the things that speak to my heart

Our time here in Guatemala is certainly a time of vacation for our family. However, it is also a time of giving to those in need, a time a listening to the Lord, and a time of continuing to grow some relationships that are so precious to us. So, with our time here, comes a rush of emotions that range from laughter with my husband and children, wonderful memories made with friends, and pain and heartache from the devastation that saturates this beautiful country. Every time we are here (and this time is no different), the Lord shows Himself to our family in new and beautiful ways. I think that is why I long to come back here. Here is a story that I will carry in my heart for the rest of my days:

We arrived in Guatemala on Thursday, exhausted from the trip down here. Our wonderful friends picked us up from the airport to deliver us to the school and children's home where they work with and minister to over 400 children that live in heart of the drug and gang capital of Guatemala. The town that they live in is noisy, crowded, dirty, and full of violence. However, once you enter the gate to the home and school, the children there are happy, playful, and full of hope. How amazing it was to look outside of the walls and see despair, and inside to see life. It was like seeing Heaven and Hell at the same time. What a privilege it was for us to see this amazing family serving the Lord in this place. We stayed there only one night and had much fun playing with the kids and taking in all that this wonderful ministry has to offer.

We were able to tour the dorms where 60 of the (orphan) children live. (The other 340 kids live outside of the walls). On our tour of the dorms, one thing was very clear to me. These kids do not have any toys! I did not see one toy. Clothing, beds, kitchen, yes, but not one toy. Wow, and these kids are so happy. Later that day, we were loading up the van, and one little girl (that had spent some time with my girls), came running up to the van. She was all smiles as she announced "Yo tengo un regalo para Lily"....I have a present for Lily. In her little, sweet hand, she held a small Ariel Princess doll. Earlier that day, my girls had talked with her and she and Lily bonded over their common love of princesses.
I was tormented at the very depths of my heart. How do I allow this child to give my daughter this little doll when it may very well be the only toy that she calls her own? My first thought was to not allow her to give it. Then, I realized that I would be stealing her joy. We thanked her and hugged her and quickly snapped the photo below. She was so very happy to give. I ask myself, do I give that joyfully? That sacrificially? Will I ever learn to give as this little girl did? I was reminded of the widow giving her last penny. I can imagine that our heavenly father was smiling down on His precious child.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Land of Eternal Spring

What a great day here in Antigua. It is amazing what can happen when you are together in a foriegn country and just trying to get a few things done.

On the agenda for today was to get some Quetzales (money), eat a late breakfast, and go to the store to get food and a pinata for Lily's party tomorrow. We did all of this but it seemed like every where we went, there was so much more to the story.

A short carriage ride to the Santo Domingo

For breakfast, we decided to eat at one of the fanciest and most expensive hotels in the city, Casa Santo Domingo. We had heard from several friends that the food is world class and the price is reasonable, so Why not go? Our kids all remembered being there last year, and enjoyed the beautiful gardens complete with ancient statues and parrots. The meal was excellent and it cost about $30 for all six of us. That's only a little more than McD's would cost us back home....

Before we left, Lily even led the parrots in a screaming contest (I think she won) and she saw a real live Princess (there was a wedding going on and we ran into the bridal party).

Later in the day, Carrie and the older two kids went to the local market to find a pinata while Lily, Max and I found a place to sit and get a light snack. Well, at one point, Lily dropped the cap for her bottle of juice, there is no 5 second rule here, so the cap will not be used again. I am holding the uncapped juice and some of a pastry in my right hand, and using my left hand to hold Lily on my lap. When I lift the pastry to my mouth, the juice pours all over my leg making it look exactly like I have wet myself. Max sees this and begins to laugh while drinking his 7 up. He spews a good amount of 7Up at me. So here we are on a busy sidewalk, my two little kids laughing and burping, and me looking incontinent. Good times....

Then we meet up with Carrie again and Gabbie is carrying the biggest pinata I have ever seen. They had asked for a princess so the man in the market was digging through his inventory fow quite some time. When he came back with this, she couldn't reject it. And what princess loving 3 year old wouldn't love a 4 foot tall Belle at their party? We became the most popular photo op in Antigua for at least 15 minutes.

We are going to have so much fun beating the Dulce out of her tomorrow. - Belle, not Gabbie.

Can Three Beautiful Princesses fit in One Tuk Tuk?

There are a few other stories to tell, but I will save those for another time.

Thanks for checking on us.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Adventure Begins!!!

We arrived safely in Guatemala yesterday morning and have enjoyed the great hospitality of our friends, the Smiths. (

It was an amazing day. We were running a little late (30 min) getting to the airport this morning and we BARELY made it onto our 5:40AM flight. In fact, the agent that helped us check in told Carrie about 5 times "You are not going to make it on that plane" With 4 kids, 9 checked bags, and 6 carry-ons, it did seem like an impossible task, but she helped us anyway and we made it onto the plane just minutes before it left the gate.

One more quick story... Our boys spent a good share of the evening playing soccer with 6 or 7 boys who live here. It was a ton of fun, and the footwork some of these kids can do is amazing. After playing into the darkness, Max informed us that "I have the same soccer skills as the Guatemalan boys. And I didn't even practice." I love that boy's confidence.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Gabbie's Birthday!!!!!

I cannot believe that our oldest child turned twelve this weekend. As a mom, I could fill this entire blog entry with all sorts of sappy emotional jargon. I could write for the next two hours about how I held her in my arms as a newborn baby what seems like just last week and about how it must have been yesterday that we were teaching her how to ride her bike without training wheels. But now my eyes are starting to fill with tears and this blog entry was supposed to be about what a great celebration we had this weekend, so I will try to stick to the point.
We surprised Gabbie with a room make over. Her mattress has been on the floor for the past nine months. She has been using the comforter to cover up with that I made her when she was 2 years old, and that was two houses ago. Yes, her room needed a little attention. So, we decided to go all out. Chad made (yes, he made) her a platform bed with a gorgeous upholstered headboard. (What an amazing man he is, but again, I will try to stick to the point!) I picked out the rest of the decor, and I tried to really choose the style that my preteen daughter would love. Some great friends helped to get her out of the house for the afternoon, and here is the result:
notice in the picture below that Max is covering his ears because his sister is screaming so loud. Yeah, I think she likes it!
If you can get past Max in his unders, this is the best we could do for a "before picture".

Gabbie had a fun celebration with some friends at the Mall last night.
Anyone for a Mall scavenger hunt? What could be more fun for this great group of girls?
How much is the most expensive pair of men's shoes in the Foot Locker? How many different colors of "CROCS" does the Hallmark store have? Any guesses? These girls had to answer those questions and more as part of the adventure.

Will woke Gabbie up on her birthday with a surprise scavenger hunt at our house which included finding ten different flavors of Jones Soda. I must say, this was a very creative gift that he came up with.

Anyone for a Jones Soda at 8 A.M.?

Happy Birthday to my wonderful daughter!